Back to School: The ABC's of Cell Phone Safety

Aug 16, 2011, 12:28 ET from Grassroots Environmental Education

Experts say kids should limit use, and keep phones away from heads

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y., Aug. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Grassroots Environmental Education, a New York-based environmental health non-profit, is urging parents to teach their children five simple rules to limit their exposure to cell phone radiation.  The group, citing increasing scientific evidence of potential harm from exposure to cell phone radiation, says children are particularly vulnerable.

"With a new school year upon us, the list of back-to-school supplies may include a new cell phone, typically one that has more power and can perform more functions," says Patti Wood, Executive Director of Grassroots. "But emerging studies from all over the world are telling us to be extremely cautious about these wireless devices, especially where children are concerned. Parents should set rules for their kids about cell phones, and schools should adopt similar protective guidelines."

Grassroots is urging parents to teach their children the following five simple rules for cell phone use:

  1. Never hold a cell phone directly against your head.
  2. Use the speaker setting or a corded headset whenever possible.
  3. Switch side (ears) frequently if you have to hold it near your head.
  4. Do not carry cell phones in pockets or anywhere else on your body.
  5. Use cell phones only for emergencies or quick check-ins.

Wireless devices, transmitters and cell phone towers emit non-ionizing "radio frequency" or "microwave radiation." A growing number of studies suggest that prolonged exposure to this type of radiation can damage DNA and cause other health problems, particularly in vulnerable populations, such as children.

Cell phone radiation is transmitted by the phone's antenna, which is embedded in the case of the phone in most current models. Virtually all manufacturers warn against holding the device next to the head, advising users to maintain a distance of about one inch.

"The allowable limit for adult exposure to RF radiation in the United States is much higher than it is in many other countries and protects us only against heating," says Dr. Magda Havas, Associate Professor of Environmental & Resource Studies at Trent University in Canada. "Children are more sensitive than adults to all kinds of environmental exposures yet we use the same high exposure standard for children.  This doesn't make any sense."

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SOURCE Grassroots Environmental Education